Part of BC Cranberry Farming Since 1968

Frequently Asked Questions

Where are cranberries grown?

There are more than 6,500 acres of cranberry bogs that are in the communities of Richmond, Delta, Pitt Meadows, Langley, Chilliwack, and on Vancouver Island.

Who grows cranberries?

Seventy farm families, some 4th generation, are dedicated to growing cranberries.

How are cranberries grown?

There are two ways to start a cranberry plant. One way is with vine cuttings. These cuttings are obtained from pruning existing vines which are directly planted into a field. Another way is to use rooted cuttings which are also called cranberry plugs, these are cuttings that have been placed in a growing medium and are grown into ‘baby’ vines. Planting can be very labour intensive.

Growers manage newly planted bogs carefully for at least three years before they can expect a harvest. With good management a new field should be full-bearing in 4-5 years.

Growers monitor their cranberry fields throughout the year to monitor for weather related damage, pests and weeds that may affect the plants’ growth, production and fruit quality. Cranberries are a perennial crop and can be productive for decades. Some of the fields in BC are as much as thirty years old. Due to the age of some of our fields, many growers are undergoing a period of “renovating” their bogs by adding sand, renewing drainage, replacing irrigation equipment and replanting problem areas.

Cranberries grow on low lying vines in beds layered with sand and peat soil. These vines produce runners from which short upright branches form. These uprights are where the blossoms grow and after pollination this is where the fruit is formed. The shape of the flower resembles the head of a crane and because of this, early settlers called the fruit “crane berry”. Over time, the fruit came to be called cranberry.

When are cranberries harvested?

The cranberry harvest takes place once a year – from September through the end of October. There are two methods of harvesting — dry harvest and wet harvest.

What is the process for dry harvesting in a cranberry field?

For dry harvesting, berries are picked by growers by a mechanized picking machine. Dry harvested fruit is “combed” by this machine as it moves up and down the cranberry bog. The fruit is loaded into bins and shipped to receiving stations where it is cleaned and packaged as fresh fruit. Cranberries sold as fresh berries are the ones you will find in the produce aisle of your local grocery store. Fresh berries can be used for cooking and baking.

What is the process for wet harvesting a cranberry bog?

For wet harvesting, the bogs are flooded with water. The fruit is then “beaten” off the vine with a specialized harvester. Workers work as a team as they move up and down through the bog making sure that the entire field has been harvested. The floating fruit is then corralled and loaded onto trucks for delivery to the receiving station for cleaning. Berries will be further processed for juice, sweetened dried cranberries or sauces/jellies.

Why do cranberries float?

Cranberries have four air pockets inside them. This allows the cranberries to float to the surface during the wet harvest operation.

What is a white cranberry?

White cranberries are cranberries harvested a few weeks early before they turn red. They are the same varieties as the cranberries you are used to seeing in the store. White cranberries are used for white cranberry cocktail.

Why do I sometimes see airplanes and helicopters over the fields?

Growers may use airplanes and helicopters as a very effective way to apply fertilizer or inspect their bogs. The pilots are very careful to fly safely and low enough over the fields in order to prevent ‘drift’ on to neighbouring properties.

Why do I see flags in the bogs?

Growers will use flags to mark many things on a cranberry bog. During wet harvest, flags are used to mark ditches as well as being used to help guide the beating machines to ensure that all parts of the field are ‘beaten’ to harvest the berries.

Growers also use flags to identify a problem area that needs attention as well as to identify for drainage or irrigation.

Are pesticides used on cranberries?

Growers are committed to providing consumers with the highest quality fruit possible. Best Management Practices (BMP) which includes soil and crop nutrition, pruning, water management and pest management is an important part of cranberry farming. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a system of management where growers monitor for pests on a regular basis in order to be proactive and quickly respond to presence. Many growers also hire IPM consultants to assist them in ensuring the health of their fields. Pesticides are only used when necessary and growers are required to hold pesticide applicator certificates which ensures that they understand how and when to apply products and maintain they are used in accordance with the label directions. Records of all chemical applications are kept on farm. Growers also continually upgrade their knowledge and skills through pesticide certification programs and attending workshops and other grower education events.

Why do BC cranberries go to Ocean Spray?

Over 95% of cranberries grown by BC growers are shipped to the USA for use in value-added Ocean Spray products such as juice and Craisins. Ocean Spray is a grower owned cooperative including our BC growers. By purchasing Ocean Spray products you are supporting our BC cranberry growers.